Nick Saban in 2007.
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Nick Saban Almost Played For Navy and Changed NCAA History

Nick Saban was close to playing football at Navy, and it could be the greatest "what if?" in college football history.

The most notable football player to ever come from the Naval Academy is, of course, two-time Super Bowl champion and Heisman Trophy winner Roger Staubach.

But what if I told you the greatest college football coach of all time also played at Navy? No, Alabama head coach Nick Saban did not play for the Midshipmen, but he almost did, and it could've changed college football history in ways we can't even fathom.

As Notre Dame and Navy kick off Week 0 of the 2023 college football season from Dublin, Ireland, let's take a trip down memory lane in a big "what if" story about the GOAT.

Family Kept Saban From Playing For Navy

Head coach Nick Saban of the Alabama Crimson Tide during the game against the Mississippi Rebels at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium

Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images

Before Saban went on to play defensive back for the Kent State Golden Flashes, he was ready to head to navy.

But he told Athlon Sports that he "decided it wasn't what I wanted to do" in the spring before he would've reported to Annapolis. The reason? He was a shy kid and he had an uncle close to Kent State.

"They were the absolutely worst program of the bunch," Saban said of Kent State. "But I had an uncle in Canton, which was only 30 miles away, and since I was a shy kid from (Fairmont) West Virginia, I wasn't comfortable not knowing anybody."

Saban didn't have many other offers. The other two on the table were Miami (Ohio) and Ohio. So he packed his bags for Kent, Ohio, and the rest is history. He was a member of the 1972 MAC champion team as a safety, and he earned three letter in football there.

Afterward, he began his coaching career, landing a gig as a grad assistant at Kent State in 1973. He'd go on to coach all over the country, even stopping at Navy as the school's defensive backs coach in 1982.

Saban shared a memory from his time at Navy, explaining why his brief stint there was so special.

"When you coach at (Navy), you coach the greatest young people in the world," Saban said, via 247Sports. "I would get on a guy and he would keep saying 'Yessir,' and it would make me mad. I would say, 'If you say yessir one more time, I'm going to kick you in the butt.' And he would say 'Yessir.'"

Of course, we all are familiar with Saban's head coaching career. He's regarded as the greatest college football coach of all time. But one can't help but wonder what would have happened if Saban went to Navy. After all, everyone who graduates from a service academy is required to serve in their respective branch.

If he winds up serving in the Navy, does he ever go on to win any national championships? Does he make Alabama a powerhouse in the SEC? Maybe he goes back to Navy to coach at his alma mater and turn them into a national championship squad. Navy fans can dream, right?

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